Aurora — Backed by Uber And Amazon — Announces New Partnership to Develop Driverless Trucks

By Jemima McEvoy Saturday, January 23, 2021

Self-driving startup Aurora is partnering with Paccar, a major truck manufacturer, to develop driverless trucks. A long-time goal for the company, this will be Aurora’s first commercial application of its technology in trucking. Here’s what you need to know about the Amazon-backed startup and how it’s driving innovation.

Hand pushing a delivery truck button against a digital map

What Is Aurora?

Founded in 2017, the Pittsburgh-based startup was created by experts with deep ties to the self-driving technology industry, including Google’s driverless car project Waymo, Uber’s ATG, and Tesla’s Autopilot.

Aurora’s main business goal is to “safely accelerate” the adoption of self-driving technology, according to its website. The company has made driverless trucks its primary order of business.

Money and Investors

Aurora’s stated mission of facilitating a safer, more efficient vehicular ecosystem appears to have hit home with investors, who have poured a whopping $1.1 billion into the startup in just three years, according to business data from Crunchbase.

There are numerous big names among those investing in the company, including Hyundai Motor Company, Shell Ventures, and Uber. Uber reportedly invested $400 million into Aurora late last year when the startup acquired Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, which facilitated access to Uber’s talent and rideshare network.

Self-Driving Semis

Now, Aurora is putting its plan into action. Through its partnership with Paccar, a Fortune 500 company, Aurora will be able to develop, test, and sell its technology with Paccar’s vehicles. Together, engineers from the two companies will work on creating driverless trucks based on two of Paccar’s current models.

Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson said in a blog post that the two companies would also create “an expansive commercialization plan for the deployment of these trucks at scale over the next few years.”

Cutting Competition

However, while this partnership is already exciting investors (Paccar saw its shares rise after the announcement), Aurora doesn’t have an entirely clear road ahead.

The company faces intense competition in the self-driving space — and specifically in the development of autonomous trucks. It will have to compete with Alphabet’s Waymo, which has been testing its driverless trucks in a number of states and has formed a partnership of its own with Daimler. TuSimple is also working on its own driverless truck technology.

Final Takeaways

Though the competition is fierce, Aurora appears to have all the ingredients for success: a desirable mission, internal expertise, and outside (investor) excitement. With this partnership under its belt, the startup has put itself in a strong position to compete with big players like Google’s Waymo.

About the Author

Headshot for author Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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